Title: Shadowhunters S1.E02 “The Descent Into Hell Isn’t Easy”
Released: 2016
Series:  Shadowhunters

Shadowwinner of the Week: Alec
Shadowloser of the Week:

Hello, Shadowhunter friends! I’ll be taking over recapping duties from here on out; thanks so much to Sarah for testing the waters last week! And what better way to kick off FYA’s regular coverage of the show than with a drinking game?

The Official FYA Shadowhunters Drinking Game

Take a sip whenever:

  • a rune lights up (or whatever you call that process)
  • someone says “mundane” or “mundie”
  • the camera lingers on the flickering PanDEMONium sign

Take a drink whenever:

  • Jace walks like Tommy Boy looking for the weight room
  • a demon is vanquished
  • there’s painfully obvious FORESHADOWING from the books, esp. for romantic pairings
    • take another drink if you don’t even know anything from the books and you recognize it anyway

Take a shot whenever:

  • Simon makes a joke that’s actually funny
  • there’s gratuitous male shirtlessness

For fans of the book, take a drink whenever:

  • you can’t handle the show’s interpretation of something

What Happened

Shadowhunter Institute

To the surprise of no one — because otherwise, we would have no show — Clary chooses to trust Jace, who brings both her and Simon into the Institute. In order to learn more about the Circle baddies, Jace takes Clary to see the Institute’s weapons trainer, Hodge Starkweather. (HELLOOOOOOOOO, HODGE. You’re certainly not the old British dude I remember from the movie.) As a former Circle member, Hodge is forbidden to ever leave Institute, and he endures a painful rune just to even talk about the Circle to give Clary the scoop: Hodge and Jocelyn were BFFs, and they were both Circle members before they left. The Circle’s leader was Valentine Morgenstern, who had an eviiiiil plan for most of humanity to die before perishing in a fire years ago (OR SO THEY THINK). Valentine had been looking for the Mortal Cup, the most important object in the Shadow World, capable of granting whomever possesses it the power to control demons and make more Shadowhunters. And whaddya know — Clary connects the dots that the Mortal Cup might be what Jocelyn had mentioned that she had hidden. But Clary has no recollection of this, and Jace figures that her memory’s been wiped by a warlock.

Also important to note: after Jace’s father died during the Circle’s revolt against the Clave (the good guys), he was taken in by Alec and Isabelle’s family.

New York’s Finest

Detective Hot Luke saves a rando warlock from a demon looking for Magnus Bane, in a tussle with audible ~WOLF SOUNDS~.  So not only are the dead bodies starting to pile up at work, but Hot Luke is personally responsible for one of ’em — and it’s a Circle member he was recently interrogating, WHOOOOPS. (Seriously? You’re a cop but you can’t cover your own tracks better than that? I guess it’s true that God doesn’t give with both hands.) Captain Vargas’ spidey senses are tingling, and Hot Luke is veryyyy insistent on finding Clary himself.

— I know it doesn’t have to be stylized this way, but DOING IT ANYWAY since the show sure likes shots of the sign.

Remember that necklace Jocelyn gave Clary before they were separated? Well, it’s a thing that happened in the pilot, I swear! And it comes in handy when it gives Clary visions of Jocelyn’s friend/employee, Warlock Dot, at PanDEMONium… except Dot is totally gone by the time the Shadowhunters Plus Simon arrive. What Clary didn’t see is that Dot went to see Magnus Bane after she evaded the Circle. Valentine’s been hunting down warlocks to find who helped brew the coma-inducing potion that Jocelyn used, so Magnus and a bunch of warlocks are peacing out via portal. Which leaves poor, low-on-magic Dot to fend for herself… for all of a minute before she’s captured by Valentine’s minions.

CIty of Bones

After reaching a dead end with Dot, the Shadowhunter gang go looking for the Silent Brothers, a group of cloaked telepaths with their eyes and mouths stitched shut, to recover Clary’s lost memories. They couldn’t reveal where the Mortal Cup is — this is only the second episode, after all — but they unveil another secret instead: Clary’s father is Valentine Morgenstern! Which summarily freaks the shizz out of everyone, incl. the already freaky Silent Brothers. 

But there’s no time to process this revelation, as Alec and Isabelle are apparently TERRIBLE lookouts, because a group calling themselves the Night Children (snort) have abducted Simon, demanding the Mortal Cup in exchange for his life. ZOINKS!

Meanwhile, in Chernobyl…*

So what’s Daddy Dearest up ot anyway? Oh, just a little bit of light torture to get Dot to spill who created Jocelyn’s spell. And y’all know VALENTINE MEANS BUSINESS, because he… injects Dot with some sort of fluid? (Not a euphemism.) As opposed to a menacing Shadowhunter ability, but OK. Dot doesn’t cave, so just like a Rickroll, Valentine tells her that he was never going to let her go — riiiight before the camera omnimously cuts away.

*This is your weekly reminder that choosing the site of a horrific nuclear disaster as a setting for a completely unrelated TV show is a terrible, terrible idea!

Shadowwinner of the Week

Alec might be a bit of a wet blanket and a stickler for rules, but I remain thoroughly entertained by his perpetual grumpiness and inability to put up with any BS. Alec and Simon bickering = HERE FOR IT. (Although Alec’s still way too dismissive of mundanes for my liking. Stop calling people “it”, Alec!)

Honourable mention goes to Hot Hodge, obvs.

Shadowloser of the Week

Blessed with incredible hair but cursed with expository dialogue, Isabelle doesn’t get to do much else but teach Simon (and the audience) Shadowhunter 101 — and to flirt with her pupil. And we get it, Show; Isabelle’s wardrobe consists exclusively of revealing clothes (that aren’t particularly functional for the great fighter that she’s supposed to be, but whatevs). But please start developing the rest of her character, too.

Say What?

Simon: “Clary, is there a war going on that I don’t know about?”

Making a random connection after entering the Institute, because sure.

Luke: “Some of us transform and hide the idiot within.”

He seems to know an awful lot about transforming, HMMMMM.

Isabelle: “Is this the part where I give you a pep talk on harnessing your inner Shadowhunter and accepting your true destiny?”

Saying this in lieu of an actual pep talk.

Isabelle: “Why would [Clary] need protection from Jace? He’s the ultimate protector.”

Saddled yet again with cringeworthy lines.

Simon: “Mick Jagger”

Descriptions of Jace, Part 1.

Simon: “cold-blooded killer”

Descriptions of Jace, Part 2.

Clary: “emotionless G.I. Joe”

Descriptions of Jace, Part 3.

Jace: “‘For Shadowhunters, the descent into hell is easy.'”

Clary: “That should be a postcard.”


Jace: “It’s cute. You assume I have feelings. I don’t.”

Jace Wayland IS Your Brooding YA Hero.

Jace: “No more ‘I’m sorry’s. You’re a Shadowhunter now.”

Because Shadowhunters apparently don’t need manners.

Swimfan Says

Since I’ve only read the first Mortal Instruments book, I’ve invited ATXFYA’s resident TMI expert, Meredith (@legallyblonde), to weigh in from a fan’s perspective. Here’s what she has to say!

  • The banter between Isabelle/Jace/Alec and Simon (Shadowhunters vs. mundane), Alec/Clary, and Isabelle/Simon was great.  It set up the dynamics between the different characters well.

  • The Silent Brothers were creepily accurate; that scene was pretty close to my mental picture of it.

  • Generally, all things that happened outside Clary’s perspective were created for the show but worked well for the characters.

  • Clary’s general fierceness was fantastic, and I hope it keeps developing.

  • Clary doesn’t have a magic necklace in the book, though it is helpful in moving the show along, and Valentine is at Roosevelt Island rather than Chernobyl.

  • Straight from the book moments: Alec calling Clary “little girl,” Jace saying the Shadowhunter motto is “looking better in black than widows of our enemies” before translating the actual motto.

  • The mythology explained this episode, which was a lot, was consistent both with the book and throughout the episode, from the runes to Forsaken to the Circle lore.  (The exceptions, because who doesn’t like exceptions, are mentions of the Circle being forbidden and Hodge’s curse in the book being limited to keeping him inside the Institute.)

  • Two moments that differed but have the same outcome: 1) Jace has the idea of taking Clary to the Silent Brothers rather than Hodge, and it’s a group effort that leads to 2) Simon being kidnapped by vampires from the van rather than being taken from a party in honor of Magnus’ cat (because Magnus likes a good party).

Wait a minute — we missed out on a cat party?! And THANK GOODNESS Chernobyl was another show-only decision. (Again: WTF? I fear I will never be over this.)

Burning Questions

  • Will the dialogue on this show ever improve? To borrow a phrase from Clary, it’s still, like, Level Ten bad.

  • Circle, Clave, Silent Brothers, Night Children… just how many groups are in this world, anyway? And are they all listed in some sort of supernatural club registry?

  • Are any of y’all complete newbies to this Shadowhunters/Mortal Instruments business? I can’t tell how much my limited pre-existing knowledge is helping spot plots from a mile away or the show really is being THAT obvious. But probs a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she’s been overseeing all things FYA Book Club since 2013.